Lawmakers introduce a marriage equality bill in the Maryland Senate, where the measure is expected to pass, while legislators in Montana approve a measure that would prohibit localities from outlawing discrimination against gay people. That’s in today’s State Marriage Watch:
– MARYLAND: Earlier today, Maryland Senators introduced SB 116, ‘Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act,’ which would allow gays and lesbians to marry in the state while exempting religious institutions from conducting the same-sex marriage ceremonies. State Senator Robert Garagiola introduced the measure and stressed that religious institutions would not be required to recognize these relationships. Listen to audio from today here.
– HAWAII: Tomorrow, Governor Neil Abercrombie will sign a bill allowing gays and lesbians to enter into legally-recognized civil unions. The Hawaii Senate passed the final version of the measure by a vote of 18-5 on Thursday. “I have always believed that civil unions respect our diversity, protect people’s privacy, and reinforce our core values of equality and aloha,” Abercrombie said in a statement. “For me this bill represents equal rights for all the people of Hawaii.”
– WYOMING: On Friday, the Wyoming senate passed a bill to prevent “any recognition of civil unions or marriages among same-sex couples who were wed or entered a union outside of the state.” The body added an amendment to allow out-of-state couples in civil unions access to Wyoming courts and the measure will now have to go back to the House, where it already passed last month by a vote of 32 to 27.
– WEST VIRGINIA: Yesterday, supporters of a bill pending in the House and the Senate “to add sexual orientation to the state’s nondiscrimination law gathered at the steps of the Senate. Most wore stickers proclaiming they ‘stand with Sam,’ referring to Sam Hall, a gay coal miner who filed a lawsuit against Massey Energy in December for discrimination. Watch video of the rally here. The bill’s fate “probably lies with the House of Delegates, where similar legislation died in 2008 and 2009.”
– NEW MEXICO: The House Consumer & Public Affairs Committee voted down three proposed measures “that would define marriage, for legal purposes as being between a man and a woman.” House Joint Resolution 7 “would have made gay marriage unconstitutional if approved by the Legislature and by voters in the 2012 general election” and HJR8 would “seek to amend the Constitution to prevent New Mexico from recognizing otherwise legal out-of-state marriages between persons of the same sex.” House Bill 162 would have bared the state from recognizing same-sex marriages from out of state.
– MONTANA: The House Judiciary Committee approved a bill Monday that would “prohibit local governments from enacting ordinances or policies seek to protect residents from real or perceived discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender as the cities of Missoula did through an ordinance and Bozeman did through a policy.” The panel also tabled a separate measure “which would have broadened the Montana Human Rights Act to prohibit discrimination statewide based on gender identity or expression and sexual orientation.”
For a complete overview of the latest developments in the marriage battleground states of Rhode Island, Maryland, New York, California, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Wyoming, Iowa, and New Mexico, click here.